Sale's starting stint off to a strong start

White Sox starting pitcher Chris Sale throws during spring training. AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Chris Sale said he felt so good in his first start since college that he was close to asking Chicago White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper if he could throw a few more innings.

Sale threw two scoreless innings for Team Dunn in their 8-4 intrasquad win over Team Konerko before a sparse crowd on a side field at the White Sox’s Camelback Ranch training facility. The first-year starter gave up two hits, struck out one and threw 15 of his 22 pitches for strikes, showing command of his changeup and breaking ball.

“He has a good changeup,” catcher A.J. Pierzynski said. “I know he got a lot of big outs last year with changeups. It’s a strikeout pitch. It’s an out pitch. As long as it’s close, where guys have to swing at it, it will be effective for him.”

Sale used a changeup to get catcher Tyler Flowers to ground into a 6-4-3 double play, got Alex Rios to fly out to left field on a breaking ball and threw several first-pitch breaking balls for strikes, according to Pierzynski. Sale got Rios and Paul Konerko out with a runner on second.

While Sale looked cool, calm and collected on the mound, the former reliever said he was just trying to get situated upon arriving at the clubhouse as he begins a new role and routine.

“Honestly, I came in here like a deer in the headlights,” Sale said. “‘Where am I going now? I was like a little kid. Hey Gavin [Floyd], what are you doing now?’ So just talking to Coop and the trainers, try to find something to get to where I need to be. Not doing too much or doing too little.”

Sale said he was mindful during warmups and at the start of the game to not go hard from the onset.

“Just taking it nice and easy and really loosening it up because you have time,” he said. “You’re in no rush. That was nice to go out there and flip some in and start stretching it out and pick it up as it goes.”

Sale has continued to garner plenty of attention as the spring has gone on. With the ups and downs sure to come with being a first-year starter, Pierzynski said it’ll be important to manage expectations for Sale.

“We don’t know what he can handle and what he can’t handle,” Pierzynski said. “You have to slow everything down and, just like I said, start with: he was ahead and threw his pitches for strikes, he didn’t walk anyone and then go from there.”